By Luke Broadwater
3:37 PM EST, January 14, 2014
City officials are poised to pay a New York-based firm $286,000 to redesign and host Baltimore government’s website.
The Board of Estimates is slated to vote Wednesday on a proposal to hire Interpersonal Frequency LLC to overhaul the city’s site. The city's former chief technology officer began a redesign and overhaul of Baltimore's government website in 2012, but left the task unfinished, city officials have said.
Interpersonal Frequency, which was among eight bidders for the job, worked with Baltimore’s current Chief Technology Officer Chris Tonjes at his previous job at Washington D.C.’s library system.
Tonjes said he was not involved in selecting the winning bidder, but vouched for the quality of the firm’s work.
“They’re excellent but some other people are equally excellent,” Tonjes said. He said a team of three managers from his office selected the winning firm.
The half-completed website overhaul, which included a redesign of the site's main page but not agency pages, created the need for the city to solicit bids on a complete website redesign and hosting contract, Tonjes said.
The bids from the eight firms ranged from $68,000 to $840,000. Three bidders were from Maryland, including The Canton Group from Baltimore, which was the highest bidder.
Tonjes said the website overhaul is expected to make Baltimore's site easier for residents to find information; integrate it more smoothly with social media; allow city agencies to more quickly update their own pages; and provide a more consistent look and feel throughout the site.
“We’re trying to take the city’s website to the next level,” Tonjes said.
Former Chief Technology Officer Rico J. Singleton resigned in 2012 after an audit in New York detailed alleged ethical violations that occurred while he worked in state government there, including negotiating a job for his girlfriend and soliciting a job for himself with a software vendor that was awarded a major contract.
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